Despite this lack of published comment, it is clear that some dance theorists in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were aware of, and agreed with, the notions of grace current in the art and literary worlds. Moreover, some of them associated the qualities of grace with specific dance types, even specific steps and ways of moving.
These attributes remained constant in dance writing throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, even though their aesthetic and intellectual contexts changed. The English dancing-master and writer John Weaver discussed the source of grace when describing stance and movement in his Rules and institutions for dancing of ,6 noting that p. The Motion of the Body is continued, and should be very easy and natural [ It is worth our observing, that the Rules laid down, for these and the following Actions, or Motions, are according to the dictates of Nature ; agreeable to the Laws of Mechanism ; and consonant to the Rules of Proportion.
Kellom Tomlinson was to expand on these observations over a decade later. Although dancing-masters did not go so far as to identify the notion of grace in dance with that of the je ne sais quoi in art, the idea 6 Appended to his Anatomical and mechanical lectures upon dancing London If so, this is another instance of Weaver being quite avant-garde in his application to dance of aesthetic theories from other countries and other visual arts. Nevertheless, early eighteenth-century dancing-masters, unlike Compan later in the century, did not necessarily attribute the ability to reflect the passions of the soul to grace, but preferred to stress on a more practical level that the quality of grace helped soften or hide inherent faults of presentation in dancing.
In the theatre this genre of dance13 was the 8 Paris, Jean Villette, , p.
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The passage in question appears on p. Schwartz and Christena L. Schlundt, French court dance and dance music : a guide to primary source writings Stuyvesant p. I am grateful to Kimiko Okamoto for tracing this reference. So what was graceful about it? Central to the notion of grace in dancing was the idea of balance and harmony. This is readily visible as the balance and harmony between the limbs of a dancer. Such co-ordination should show poise and physical grace, but it can become mannered and predictable.
So it is tempered by two other aspects of grace, which introduce variety. The first is the balance and harmony between steps and music. The steps must move either in conformity with, or in counterpoint to, the music — in other words, both steps and music must have a distinct and rational connection. For example, a pas de menuet was usually performed over two bars of triple-time music, that is, six counts, but required four transfers of weight within those six counts. There were many ways in which the four transfers of weight could be fitted into six counts of music, but there had to be a rational connection.
Another way was to use hemiola, in which the transfers of weight were made on counts 1, 3, and 5, and so ignored the barline in favour of moving on every alternate count, plus a resolution on count 6 to avoid ending up on the wrong foot. And the dance treatises make it clear that there were a number of timings other than these two options. Writers such as Rameau discussed the value of contrasting speed and dynamic in dance steps, by which grace could alternate with liveliness which he called gaiety. Such aspects of variety, manifested through changing speed or rhythm, stop the dancing looking lifeless or predictable, yet, if kept within reason and good taste, should not obstruct its sense of grace.
For all the above reasons, Rameau considered certain dance steps more graceful than others, and specifically identified them. The first is sinking on one foot, and making a Step with the other and rising on it, which obliges you to do it gracefully. The prologue of Atys is set in the palace of the god of Time, who sings of the king as the greatest of war heroes falling in the middle of the Dutch war and the greatest of lawgivers.
To the music of a sarabande, the goddess Flora appears with a troupe of nymphs, and sings of the cruelty of winter preventing her from paying her homage of flowers to the king before he departs for war in the spring. She offers a series of games comprised of dancing and singing. Her followers dance a gavotte, followed by the Zephirs singing of Spring, before the gavotte music is repeated.
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She drives Flora away, saying that she Melpomene has come to relate a story of lost love, and her followers resume their ancient battles until the goddess Iris restores harmony. This study of pictorial imagery was first published in , republished with illustrations from onwards, and was still widely read in the mid-eighteenth century. Several French editions appeared during the second half of the seventeenth century, and so were in currency at the time that Atys was staged.
The former is depicted as a beautiful young woman with long flowing fair hair, surrounded from head to foot by rays of heavenly light, and holding in her hands an overflowing cornucopia. Divine Grace, also depicted as a beautiful woman, stands with an open book and an olive branch in one outstretched hand, and offers a chalice with the other.
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She is looking upwards, as the holy spirit in the form of a dove hovers above her head, encircled by rays of heavenly light. The association of Grace with beauty and peace the dove, the olive branch can be transferred quite plausibly to the Atys prologue since they are attributes of Spring in that opera. There are striking visual parallels between this image and the Atys prologue : the personification of Grace beside a cornucopia, flowers and trees, invites comparison with the goddess Flora, herald of Spring ; the cloud on which she is seated brings to mind a common form of stage-machine for bringing deities on stage in seventeenthcentury operas and ballets.
She performed a wide variety of dancing roles, including that of a Grace in seven different operas between and see Appendix, Table 1. Parfaict, and C. They include the two solos set to music from the Prologue of Atys referred to earlier.
It is therefore valuable to take a closer look at the two extant dances from Atys that Pecour created for her. The gavotte is probably the solo that Guiot danced in either the staging of November , or that of November , or both, since they are the only years prior to when she is known to have performed in Atys. In the listing for she is accompanied by four other female nymphs of Flora, and four male followers of Flora ; and her name heads the list of nymphs, which suggests a solo role.
In the listing for she is the only dancer named. The music for the gavotte occurs twice in the prologue, so it is quite possible that one playing was for a group dance, and the other for her solo. Or she may have danced a solo section within a group dance,32 the music being repeated more times than the scores indicate — the scene depicts the games of dance and song decreed by Flora, and the alternation of solos, group dances and sung passages was quite usual in such scenes.
In terms of the overall structure of the Atys gavotte as written for Mlle Guiot, it like many baroque dances conforms to definitions of grace through taste and ingenuity exhibited through the sparing use of repetition. For example, the music, 28 bars long, is in rondeau form 30 Michael Gaudrau, Nouveau Recueil de dance de balle et celle de ballet […] de Mons. Pecour Paris, Gaudrau, c. Marsh, La Danse noble : an inventory of dances and sources New York , p.
Moreover, the phrases are of uneven lengths,34 and as in many danced gavottes, there is a halfbar upbeat which allows a tension between steps and music that sometimes resolves, and sometimes adds to the sense of surprise. In this way particularly strong statements of steps related to grace can be seen right at the beginning of the dance, and again half way through it, while additional echoes of the quality occur elsewhere. Such partial repeats or even repeats of entire dance pieces were not uncommon, particularly in revivals of operas when new choreographies were presented.
The courante had largely ceased to be performed by the early s. Whatever the case, the dance still contains several characteristics of grace. Like the gavotte already described, it is in rondeau form consisting of six sections of differing lengths ABACAA, 35 bars in total. Half turn pirouettes occur in the C section bars Several steps are ornamented with added beats, and small jumps often turning on the spot provide if not exactly gaiety then at least lightness to some of the phrases. The extant dance notation and later descriptions of steps by Rameau and others allow us to imagine what must have been the beauty of her steps and harmony of every part of her body, her poise, her awareness of what it meant to be dancing as a nymph attendant upon a goddess, and the tasteful restraint she brought to the ornamented steps of the choreography.
But perhaps, as several writers on art and aesthetics of the time noted, it will always be too intangible a quality to put into words, and one 38 The A sections are each 5 bars long, the B section 7 bars long, and the C section 8 bars long.
An uninspired poet who seeks to appeal only by rigorous application of the rules of versification is no better than a rope dancer, a circus performer who satisfies only a superficial taste for spectacle and meaningless virtuosity. Such images of dance arise in the broad context of the querelle des anciens et des modernes, and more specifically, in the querelle du vers of the first half of the eighteenth century.
Inherent in these debates are the assumptions that poetry is about the cultivation of grace, that grace is fundamentally about movement, that dance is exemplary of graceful movement, and that poetry should therefore emulate dance. Her research has filled a notable lacuna in previous work concerning grace in the neoclassical arts. Dance appears to be such a compelling instance of grace that it is used as an aesthetic measure of poetry. The qualities which are measured have been identified by Jennifer : a tasteful way of physically manifesting spiritual values ; harmony e.
The particular analogy between poetry and dance, however, has its distinctive characteristics. On the other hand, dance obviously enjoys a pre-eminent status in the minds of those who use a choric analogy for poetry. It is the best illustration of grace, because like grace, it is inescapably a matter of physicality and motion.
However much one tries to discuss them in abstract terms, they never entirely divest themselves of the idea of physical motion. On the principle that poetry should be graceful, therefore, it should by extension be like dance. One might say, therefore, that the purpose of the choric analogy is to demonstrate poetry in motion, and that the heuristic reason behind this analogy is that poetry is understood necessarily to be in motion, or else it ceases to be poetry.
It is like a dancer who is only a dancer as long as he or she keeps moving. It fulfils the need for a strikingly physical representation of an essentially theoretical debate concerning the merits or otherwise of prose and verse, and in particular, of prose and verse translations of Homer. It is also symptomatic of the desire to vulgarise abstruse ideas for the benefit of a polemic which is as remarkable for its widespread nature as it is for its vivacity. Or, as he succinctly puts it in his title : Homere danseur de corde Paris, Pierre Prault, There is nothing flattering in this choric image of the poet.
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He is as adept at performing on slack ropes and vertical ropes as he is on a tight rope, and he often fills an important function as either the opening gambit to the main theatrical performance, or else the crowd-puller outside the theatre. To use a contemporary analogy, he inoculates against vulgarity. To this end, Faure goes one step further than the analogy between a poet and a rope dancer. The image of Homer could hardly be more dire. He is no better entertainment nor worse! Laurent Paris, Etienne Ganeau, See the review in the Mercure galant August The hanged body swinging on the gallows has about as much chance of achieving aesthetic grace as it does religious grace.
The dancer, whether on a rope, under a rope or, as we shall see, in a more noble setting, is the most animated image that contemporaries can find for an extremely animated polemical scene. Choric images in the querelle, however, do not only draw on the vulgar connotations of dance. There are also more noble analogies. In either case, vulgar or noble, choric images seem compelling to those who use them precisely because of the graceful, or indeed graceless connotations that they have.